Last updated on January 19th, 2023 at 10:46 pm
Songs about cowboys, just like literature and films, have an enduring appeal. What’s more dramatic than a lone cowboy riding the ranges, looking for his love or revenge?
So giddy up and check out our list below for the absolute best songs about cowboys. We’ll feature five songs each from the following genres: country, rap, rock, and pop.
The Best Songs About Cowboys
“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys” – Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson
One of the greatest classic cowboy songs, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” is best known from Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s take on it, which spent four weeks on top of the country music chart in 1978.
Before making it onto the 1978 duet album Waylon & Willie, the song was originally recorded by Ed Bruce, who wrote it with his wife, Patsy Bruce.
Related: Willie Nelson’s Net Worth and Other Essential Facts
“Should’ve Been A Cowboy” – Toby Keith
Country legend Toby Keith dropped “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” in 1993 as his debut single, which can be found on his self-titled album.
One of the best country songs about cowboys, the tune is a reminiscence about childhood dreams of being a gun-slinging, cattle-driving rancher.
“The Cowboy Rides Away” – George Strait
George Strait spins a sad tale about a lost romance in “The Cowboy Rides Away.”
Taken from his Platinum-certified fourth album, Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, this famous cowboy song has no doubt played from the open windows of countless pickups over the years.
“El Paso” – Marty Robbins
They sure don’t make ’em like this anymore. The late great folk and country singer Marty Robbins spins a tale here about a lovesick man shooting down a cowboy who dared to share a drink with the woman he desired.
Full of superb performances, it’s one of the greatest songs about cowboys for anyone who appreciates a good yarn.
“Rhinestone Cowboy” – Glen Campbell
When you talk about songs about cowboys, “Rhinestone Cowboy” is surely one of the first songs to come to mind.
The tune, which is one of the country legend’s biggest hits, is about his journey to make it in the cutthroat world of the music business.
Campbell doesn’t just sing about cowboys, though. He grew up on an Arkansas farm and proved it by showing off his horsemanship in the official film clip.
“Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)” – Big & Rich
There’s more to find than ballads when looking for songs about cowboys, as the lighthearted “Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)” shows.
Country music duo Big & Rich mixed in some rap grooves to make their biggest hit with this track, which also received a promotional push from several appearances on TV and in commercials.
“Old Town Road” – Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
“Old Town Road” is definitely one of the most infamous rap songs about cowboys in a long time.
At just 20 years old, rapper Lil Nas X dropped the song as his debut single, and it spent 19 weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. That’s the longest streak since the chart began in 1958.
“Old Town Road” is notable for featuring country legend Billy Ray Cyrus and sampling an eerie instrumental part from Nine Inch Nails’ ambient track “34 Ghosts IV”.
Related: 44 Interesting Facts About Lil Nas X
“Cowboy” – Kid Rock
Hailed as the first country rap song, “Cowboy” features the brash and loose flow of Michigan native Kid Rock.
True to the title, Kid Rock does know how to ride. Heading back to his country roots paid off for him, and the hit has remained a staple of his live show ever since.
Related: Kid Rock’s Height, Net Worth, Family, and More
“Wild Wild West” – Will Smith
“Wild Wild West” was a movie tie-in for megastar Will Smith. The movie may have bombed, but the song was a big hit, shooting to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and gaining a Gold certification.
Sampling the funky keyboard of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish,” the song remains one of the best-known rap songs about cowboys and is a great example of Smith’s pop-tinged hip hop.
“Ghetto Cowboy” – Mo Thugs Family and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
1998 was a good year to be a ghetto cowboy. Kid Rock’s “Cowboy” dropped in August, while Mo Thugs Family dropped “Ghetto Cowboy” in November.
The hip-hop collective lay down a loose flow over a country-tinged melody driven by a hard-hitting beat.
Related: The 21 Best Rap Songs of All Time
“Desperado” – Eagles
One of the greatest rock songs about cowboys, “Desperado” features a powerful and raw lead vocal from Don Henley.
The Eagles recorded the album of the same name in only four or five takes for each song, which given the flawless performances, is an astonishing feat and a testament to their musicianship.
“The Joker” – Steve Miller Band
Opening with the memorable line “some people call me the space cowboy,” this song went to number one on both sides of the Atlantic in 1973.
“The Joker” remains the most famous Steve Miller song, and it became a minor hit for a second time in 2005 when Fatboy Slim covered it.
“Wanted Dead Or Alive” – Bon Jovi
Driven by a beautiful opening acoustic guitar part and one of the most memorable vocal hooks in hard rock, “Wanted Dead Or Alive” was one of many mega hits from rock institution Bon Jovi in the ’80s.
The song’s protagonist is a cowboy riding a ‘steel horse,’ and while open to interpretation, it seems to explore the trials and tribulations of living life on the road.
“Cowboy Song” – Thin Lizzy
Cowboy songs are told on both sides of the Atlantic, and few are better than “Cowboy Song” by the finest proponents of hard-rocking folk out of Ireland, Thin Lizzy.
Believe it or not, songs about cowboys were being written in Ireland as far back as 1000 AD.
So it’s no surprise that primary Lizzy songwriter Phil Lynott, known for his love of folk music, turned his hand to writing a cowboy tune (with some help from drummer Brian Downey).
“Cowboy Song” is a driving ballad that beautifully captures the loneliness of riding on the ranges, remembering a lost love.
“Jeannie Needs A Shooter” – Warren Zevon
Songs about cowboys dying are a classic of the genre, and few hit the heart harder than this Warren Zevon rocker.
The ’70s hitmaker heard that the Boss was working on a song called “Jeannie Needs A Shooter.” Zevon asked him so many times when he was going to finish it that Springsteen eventually handed the job over to Zevon and told him to do it.
The dark ballad is about a hard-riding, hard-shooting man who runs into trouble when pursuing a beautiful woman.
Related: 17 of the Best Bruce Springsteen Songs
“Cowboy Take Me Away” – The Dixie Chicks
If you were around at the turn of the century you’ll remember when The Dixie Chicks were just about the biggest band in the world.
The queens of country pop tear-jerkers hit the mark here with a simple tune about finding yourself in love.
The song was cut from the 1999 mega-hit album Fly, which hit number one on the Billboard 200 and is certified Diamond.
“Cowboy Like Me” – Taylor Swift
The princess of heartbreak, Taylor Swift, crafts another song about a doomed love with” Cowboy Like Me.”
Swift channels folk and country elements into this dark pop tune, which is from her 2020 album Evermore.
Related: 23 Facts About Taylor Swift That Everyone Should Know
“Space Cowboy” – Kacey Musgraves
This 2018 country pop tune is one of the more modern cowboy songs on the list.
Kacey Musgraves provides a downtempo track here, reflecting on a ‘cowboy’ lover who she refuses to keep chasing after.
The song, which has a theme of not trying to keep someone fenced in, was inspired by her close encounter with a charging stallion that almost broke through a gate she was standing behind.
“Cowboy Casanova” – Carrie Underwood
Country pop star Carrie Underwood hit the pedal to the metal with this hard-rocking hit.
Songs about cowboys often use the term to describe someone unreliable and flaky in a relationship, and this is no exception. Carrie Underwood doesn’t pull any punches on this tune, and fans ate it up, as it remains one of her biggest hits.
“I Wanna Be A Cowboy” – Boys Don’t Cry
Songs about cowboys come in all shapes and sizes – this is the only synth-pop song about them I’ve ever heard though.
The London-based group went pretty far with this dirty-minded little ditty, scoring a minor hit in the US as well as in several international markets.